Lactic Acid - a colorless liquid produced as milk sugar ferments and milk sours. It is used to curdle milk in cheese making.
Ladle - to move portions of a food using a ladle. A utensil with a cup-like bowl and a long hooked or pierced handle and available in various sizes; used to pour sauces and liquids (ex. soups) and to push sauces and other foods through a sieve.
Ladyfingers - a small finger-shaped sponge cake, like a cookie.
Lager - any light beer.
Lamb - the meat of a sheep slaughtered when less than 1 year old; generally tender with a mild flavor; also known as a yearling.
Lamb’s Fry - the heart, liver, sweetbread and inside fat of the lamb.
Lamb’s Lettuce - a handy annual plant also known as corn salad. A salad green.
Lamb’s Wool - a fancy hot alcoholic drink made of hot sweetened ale, roasted apples, and nutmeg or ginger.
Langouste - see spiny lobster.
Lard - tenderized hog fat used in pie crusts and for deep-frying. Also, to insert strips of fat into meat to keep it moist and add flavor.
Larding needle - a long needle with a large eye, used to insert strips of fat into lean meats.
Lasagne - 1. Wide, flat Italian pasta sheets with ruffled or smooth edges. 2. An Italian dish made with boiled lasagna layered with cheese (usually ricotta and mozzarella) and meats and/or vegetables and topped with a tomato, meat and/or béchamel sauce and baked.
Layer Cake - two, three or more layers of cake with a filling between.
Lazy Susan - a revolving tray that sits in the middle of a dining table. Usually round.
Laurel - bay leaf.
Lean - the FDA-approved food-labeling term used to describe meat, poultry, game, fish or shellfish that contains less than 10 grams of fat, less than 4 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per serving or per 100 grams.
Leaven - to lighten and increase the volume of bakery products. Leavening agents are yeast, baking powder, baking soda and eggs.
Leavening agent; Leavener - 1. A substance used to leaven a dough or batter; may be natural (ex. air or steam), chemical (ex. baking powder or baking soda) or biological (ex. yeast). 2. A type of food additive used to produce or stimulate production of carbon dioxide in baked goods to impart a light texture.
Leek - a member of the lily family (Allium porrum); has a thick, cylindrical white stalk with a slightly bulbous root end and many flat, dull dark green leaves; the tender white stalk has a flavor that is sweeter and stronger than a scallion but milder than an onion and is used in salads and as a flavoring.
Lees - the sediment of dregs left as wine or liquors ferments. Also, the settling of a liquid.
Legumes - a large group of plants that have double-seamed pods, containing a single row of seeds; depending on the variety, the seeds, pod and seeds together, or the dried seeds, are eaten.
Lemon - a citrus fruit (Citrus limon) with a bright yellow skin, and an ovoid shape with a bulge at the blossom end, juicy yellow flesh and a very tart, distinctive flavor.
Lemon Sole - a particularly delicate flounder taken in the waters of Georges Bank, Cape Cod and Massachusetts.
Lentils - the small flat seeds of a variety of legumes (Lens esculenta); sold shelled, dried or cooked.
Lettuce - any of a variety of plants of the genus Lactuca, probably native to the Mediterranean and now grown worldwide; their leaves are generally consumed fresh in salads or used as a garnish. There are three principal types of lettuces: butterhead, crisp head and leaf.
Liaison - a thickening or binding agent for soups, sauces, stuffings and so on. Examples are flour, beurre manié (see above), cornstarch, eggs, arrowroot, etc.
Light - the FDA-approved food-labeling term used to describe a nutritionally altered food with at least 33% less calories, 50% less fat or 50% less sodium than the regular or reference (i.e. FDA standard) food.
Lights - the lungs of an animal.
Lime - an ovoid citrus fruit (Citrus aurantifolia) with a thin, green skin; smaller than a lemon, it has a juicy, pale green pulp and a very tart flavor.
Linguine - Italian for small tongue and used to describe long, narrow, slightly flattened strands of pasta.
Linzer Torte - a double hazelnut cookie filled with jam and made famous in Vienna, Austria.
Liqueur - a sweet alcoholic drink also known as a cordial and as a digestif, to be drunk after meals and served in small glasses. Also used to flavor desserts and in pastry making.
Littleneck Clams - clams 1 1/2 inches long.
Lo Mein - 1. Fresh Chinese egg noodles. 2. A Chinese-American dish of poultry, shrimp and/or meat with vegetables such as bean sprouts, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and green onions served over soft noodles.
Loquat - a small citrus fruit that sweetens as it ripens. It is good peeled, stewed with sugar, and served with cream or combined with other fruits.
Lotus Root - a water lily whose root is used as a vegetable. It is crisp when fresh. Sold dried, cut into rounds in Oriental markets.
Lotus Seeds - small and nutlike, these can be eaten raw or cooked into a stuffing.
Luau - a traditional Hawaiian freest featuring roast pig.
Lychee - a small fruit native to South China. It has a sweet-sour flavor and is considered as good canned as fresh.
Lyonnaise, à la - “in the style of Lyons”, literally, and usually featuring shredded fried onions as a garnish. Lyons is a city in central France famous for its cuisine.